Rockies @ Dodgers August 22, 2020: May gets his first career start against Colorado

Dustin May

Now on a 43/115-win pace thanks to nine wins in the past 10 games, the Dodgers hold a four-game lead over the Padres in the NL West and a 6.5-game lead over the Diamondbacks for the 8th seed in the NL.

Meanwhile the Rockies are still 6th in the NL despite losing eight of their last 10 games, dropping to .500. It has been said (complained about) many times already, but a 40-win Dodgers team facing a 28-win 8th seed in a three-game series on a neutral field in the bubble postseason sounds terrific.

Dustin May will look to continue his breakout performance tonight in Los Angeles as the Dodgers face Kyle Freeland and the Rockies.

——

The left-handed Freeland faced the Dodgers twice in 2019, finishing with a July 30 start with 8 runs (7 earned) allowed in just 3 2/3 innings. His second start on Sept. 21 lasted just 2 innings by design as he was returning from the disabled list at the time.

Freeland holds a 2.56 ERA in his 31 2/3 innings this season, though his FIP (4.34), xFIP (4.01) and SIERA (4.51) say otherwise. With his K% of 14.6 and BB% at 5.7, Freeland’s rise in GB% (58.1% from about 46% the past two years) seems to be helping a bit this year.

In the season’s small sample size, Freeland’s changeup has risen from 12.5% usage a year ago to 31.4% this year. At the same time, the GB% on both his change and a similar velocity slider have risen well into the 64% range.

——

Meanwhile, May is throwing as hard as any starter in the league through his 24 innings this season. Among pitchers with a minimum of 250 pitches, May’s five pitch velocities rank in the top three. That’s a first for his sinker (97.7 mph), curve (86.7) and cutter (93.6) as well as second for his four-seamer (98.4) and third for his changeup (90.2).

We’ve all seen the 99 mph sinker movement clip, but Baseball Savant backs it up. No one throws it as often as he does with the same kind of movement.

He faced the Rockies just once in 2019, a one-inning relief appearance on Sept. 22. After hitting Trevor Story, May got Garrett Hampson to ground into a double play and struck out Nolan Arenado.

——

As for the rest of the lineup, Mookie Betts (who is on a 9.9 WAR pace for a 162-game season with the 1.6 WAR he’s currently at) returns to the leadoff spot and AJ Pollock is in the cleanup spot playing center. While I assumed Pollock would see some considerable time at DH this season, he’s now started in the field for 10 of his last 11 starts dating back to Aug. 11.

Justin Turner gets the start at DH with Max Muncy over at third and Enrique Hernandez starting at second. Now slashing .406/.429/.531/.960 with a .500 BABIP since his batting average dipped below .100, Austin Barnes remains down at 9th just ahead of his personal hitting coach in Betts.

Image
6:10 p.m. Los Angeles
LF Tapia (L) RF Betts
SS Story SS Seager (L)
DH Blackmon (L) DH Turner
3B Arenado CF Pollock
1B Murphy (L) 1B Bellinger (L)
2B McMahon (L) LF Taylor
CF Hampson 3B Muncy (L)
RF Hilliard (L) 2B Hernandez
C Wolters (L) C Barnes
P Freeland (L) P May (R)

——

Probably the right move.

Keibert Ruiz got his first career home run out of the way during his quick two-game stint in the majors, but Will Smith’s return likely sends him back down for a bit.

Who knows how the rotation will look next week, let alone in a month, but I am curious to see how they fit Alex Wood in, if at all.

——

First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. tonight.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.